Needlework Sampler resources online

Needlework Sampler resources online

Yesterday Deb of Just Enough Time left a comment “Can you recommend any other good sites for samplers, antique and otherwise?” I thought I would pull together a list of resources that relate to samplers. So make a cuppa, settle back and I hope everyone enjoys them.

I have a A Brief History of Embroidery Samplers on my site. I wrote the article a good few years ago and it gives an overarching history of samplers.

Linn of the Embroideress hosts a number of articles on her site Skinner Sisters in her stitch online series. There is an issue devoted to samplers but don’t forget to explore the rest of the site as there is all sorts of stitching advice to be had.

On Needlework Samplers published by Dozy Rozy you will find an article on the history of samplers plus a list of sampler motifs and their meanings. The site houses lots of information about samplers and it is worth taking some time to explore it well. Theresa Venette of Shakespeare’s Peddler also has an article on the meaning behind various sampler motifs. In fact there are many articles on her site as well

There is also this article on history of samplers . The Caron site has a very good article on Samplers Through the Ages by Rita Vainius. Dutch Samplers by Lucy Lyons Willis introduces readers to the tradition of Dutch needlework samplers.


Southern Decorative Needlework by Heather Palmer looks at the role needlework played in the lives of Nineteenth-century women in the southern states of America

There are a couple of sites that cover mourning or memorial samplers. Here is a brief definition from Whiteworks and the Stitchers Studio provides a longer article on them.


The Victorian and Albert Museum has a huge collection of samplers in its textile collection. Other examples of samplers held in collections are at Powerhouse and more at the National Heritage Museum. A search of the Cleveland Museum of Art textiles collection revealed this 17th century English Band sampler and another beautiful example from the same period. In fact there are many wonderful samplers on this site.

The online database of the Old Sturbridge Village site (in the Collections section found via the side bar) you will discover that they have listed 70 items in their Sampler and needlework collection. There are some great samplers. Each illustration is accompanied by a good description with thread count of the fabric noted, the stitches used to create them are listed and fiber composition stated.

There is a collection of charming samplers all embroidered by Elizabeth E. Jacobs held in the English Embroidery Collection (C.1879-82) at victoriana.com

Patterns of Childhood: Samplers 1640-1900 is an exhibition of forty samplers selected from Glasgow Museums’ collections. The site presents information about the exhibit and a slide show online.

Antique sampler dealers Stephen and Carol Huber have a collection of samplers and stumpwork on their site

Of course you can work samplers in a modern manner and many contemporary embroiderers do. For instance take a look at the images from Constance Howard’s Study Collection.

For those that are interested in contemporary samplers you may enjoy a body of work I created in 1997 about samplers and sampling. Images from the exhibition are online and as a side note those long sampler strips are 1.25 meters long ie about 50 inches and I made 7 of them for that exhibition!

I figure if you have read this far you are interested in stitching! So just a reminder that online class Sumptuous Surfaces is commencing in a couple of days. If you enjoyed this sampler you may enjoy this class. There is further information about the class on this page and you can book this class here at joggles.com

After all that the image below is a little eye candy as it is a section from one of my samplers


  1. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts also has an excellent on-line presentation of its collections including a large array of samplers from all over the world.

    Go to http://www.mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp and try, say, ‘sampler’ in the Collection Search box. Click on the resulting thumbnails to access a page with catalogue info and an larger image – note ‘Click to Zoom’below the picture which opens up another window with a high res image where one can see fine detail, sometimes down to stitch level.


  2. I’m not very good at metric, but I’ll guess 6.2 meters. However long it is, that’s a lot of stitching! And if it were me, I would have stitched them together like that so that I would NOT have to remember the order in which I stitched them! Free up the brain space for something else! The sampler is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oooo… All this talk of samplers and the great pictures on the sites, and Odile’s Jane Longstreath sampler, are making me want to plunge back into sampler making.

    Sharon, your class looks great, but I can’t fit it in right now. Will you be offering it again in the future?


  4. Thank you Sharon, for taking the time to put this list together. I’ve been to several of these sites but there are some I’m not familiar with. I’ll have to set aside a bit of time later to check them out.

    Thank you as well for the eyecandy. It’s always a treat to see images of your gorgeous stitching!

  5. Thankyou Sharon,
    Of course one of the ideas of samplers is to use the stitches in other works, which means this is a fabulous unending source of inspiration for the use of hand stitching.

  6. Thanks for this great list, Sharon. It’s going to take me a while to get through it. But I did read your “brief history” and found it very interesting. Your last paragraph is consistent with the discussion we’ve been having about “slow cloth”.

    I love samplers but haven’t done much with them. The only one I’ve designed and made was a band sampler made in six weeks (note that it was just about ALL I did during those six weeks) while taking a sampler making class at Shepherd’s Bush in Ogden, Utah in 1987. I think I’ll put a picture of it on my blog tomorrow.


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